Bow, head! a great golfing holiday, head to Puerto Rico

I play golf, but I’ve never had the intensity to play well.

I participate in charity tournaments to support friends and casually when the mood hits (i.e. when my husband convinces me). I enjoyed it out there, but it was never successful.

Until now.

I had my “aha” moment. It didn’t take a lesson; nor a perfectly played round (which still eludes me).

It took a trip to Puerto Rico.

With magnificent courses that embrace both the love and understanding of golf and pay homage to the island’s natural beauty, first-rate accommodations, and warm, welcoming people, Puerto Rico has what it takes.

Whether you are an enthusiast or an amateur, you will find the zen of golf on this island.

I went there earlier this month – the plan was to play three league courses in three days and to be honest, I was nervous.

The first day took me to TPC Dorado Beach, a historic place that dates back to the early 1950s, when Laurence S. Rockefeller observed the land and convinced the owners, who grew and exported coconuts while maintaining the natural environment they loved. , to let him build a course.

TPC Dorado Beach’s first hole is a Ritz-Carlton Reservation, one of six in the world and the only Ritz-Carlton Reservation in the Western Hemisphere. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

Today Dorado Beach has two courses and I found myself on the East Course. The score card scared me: I’m more of a par three type of girl and this course has many long and challenging holes.

I almost smelled my first drive, but then, on the fairway, I took a deep breath, looked around at the incredible beauty and remembered my “learning golfer” mantra:

Make contact with the ball. This is all there is to it. And savor what surrounds you.

I made two good fairway shots and found myself on the green.

“You are a ringtone!” my friend Larry exclaimed.

Not really: Puerto Rico was just on my side. The weather (blue skies with puffy clouds), the quality of the course (fairways, perfect greens; heck even the sand traps didn’t look that bad) and the kind of help a girl like me needs (my caddy, Victor , deserves props) all combined to make it click.

This was true on all three courses ..

Get advice from a caddy – available at the Dorado Beach course in Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy Moira McCarthy).

The second day he introduced me to the Rio Grande Grand Reserve Golf Club ( Don’t take their “Where the Champions Play” slogan lightly: it’s the home of the PGA’s Puerto Rico Open every year.

I had pitched my tent there, so to speak, in a beachside room at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve. I could walk out my door, take about 15 steps and be on the beach, or through the nooks and crannies of the property, which felt more like a small seaside town than a “hotel” per se and visit the pool area, restaurants or take a golf cart ride to the course.

While not everyone is a golfer, I was there during the PGA Puerto Rico Open. I could see what attracted the professionals to this place.

I played the championship course as part of a PGA Tour Pro Am connected to the Puerto Rico Open.

The Championship Course, designed by World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Kite, travels the ocean as the International Course wanders inland with El Yunque framing the views.

The holes offer sea views, are lined with coconut trees and even on a hot day are cooled by a side wind that comforts you and adds a fun challenge to your game.

Beachfront at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve in Puerto Rico. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

I felt connected to sport; as if I belonged to this championship course. I found myself really looking forward to the third day.

I found it easy to eat healthy while eating local food (plenty of fresh fish, lots of great rums, and surprising uses of root vegetables), enjoyed dancing in the waves or diving into the beautiful pools, and even savoring locally inspired cocktails.

The third day he took me to The St. Regis Bahia Beach golf course.

I checked it out when I stayed my first night at St. Regis (I’ll never forget the blanket of jungle sounds as night falls.)

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the course (and the resort in total) encompasses 483 gated acres of lush maritime forest on Puerto Rico’s northeastern coast. The golf course holds Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary certification for its eco-sensitive best practices.

For me, it was about the way the (challenging but forgiving) course unfolded.

Golf will now be a part of my life. I signed up for a championship and lessons. And when I go back to Puerto Rico (why how can I not go back?) There are even more courses to love, like the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort.

For longtime golfers and those who have dabbled, I have found your place. Let’s toast with a rum when you arrive. You can find out more at